Socialist Worker

Birmingham bin workers keep fighting

Issue No. 2239

Birmingham refuse workers reacted with fury to a poor deal put forward by management last week. They overwhelmingly rejected it and demanded a return to industrial action.

Some 95 percent of the 500 workers present at the unions’ meeting rejected the offer.

The dispute is over pay being slashed by up to £4,000 a year as part of the implementation of an equal pay agreement.

The members of the Unite, GMB, Unison and Ucatt unions suspended their strike on 19 January after management promised to sack scabs they had brought in and enter into talks.

But management then employed even more scabs.

Union representatives have described the month-long negotiations as a “pointless sham”.

The Unite union said that, “Birmingham council’s latest offer amounts to little more than a list of cuts together with some overtime which isn’t even guaranteed.”

Yet union officials in the mass meeting refused to say whether workers should accept or reject the deal.

This infuriated many who made their feelings known to their officials and demanded a return to industrial action.

Their anger has been heightened by the cuts to jobs and services being made by the Tory-Lib Dem council—the biggest in the country.

More than 7,000 jobs are being axed with £300 million worth of cuts over three years.

The council will be making compulsory redundancies and outsourcing schools support services. Around 3,000 staff will be transferred to a new “schools co-operative”.

This will be expected to compete with the private sector—running services for profit not need.

Mass meetings across the council workforce in February saw 3,000 workers, including refuse workers, agreeing unanimously to be balloted for industrial action over the cuts.

The unions need to move quickly to ballot members and launch a programme of hard hitting strikes that can stop these brutal attacks.

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Tue 15 Feb 2011, 18:48 GMT
Issue No. 2239
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